Doer stresses strong neighbourly relation on Borderland visit

Peggy Revell

Canada’s ambassador to United States has vowed he will work to speed up the appeals process for Americans with older convictions for minor criminalities wanting to cross the border into Canada.
The issue of was one of many that Gary Doer, who stepped into role of ambassador just over a year ago, addressed during a luncheon meet-and-greet Friday at the AmericInn in International Falls that was sponsored by AbitibiBowater and Boise Cascade.
With Fort Frances town council, International Falls council, and local Chamber of Commerce, businesses, and other representatives present, the former Manitoba premier spoke about the cross-border relationship of our two countries.
This included the issue of how Americans with minor criminalities—such as driving under the influence, which is considered a Criminal Code offence in Canada—can be denied entry into the country, and which area tourist operators say has cost them millions of dollars over the years.
“Anything in the Criminal Code is absolutely a matter of Parliament,” Doer stressed. “But it did come through loud and clear on the time that it’s taking to get things dealt with.
“And I’m going to take that back to Canada to deal with it,” he pledged.
“The areas where we have discretion, if we could make that quicker, I know that will make a difference.”
Besides dodging a question as to whether or not the Winnipeg Jets ever will return north of the border, Doer spent much of his talk emphasizing the close relationship the two countries share.
“Canada has 35 million people, and 25 million of us cross the border of the United States every year,” he noted. “We like to travel, we are travelling people.
“We love to go across this border back and forth,” he added, pointing to the traffic the border area here has.
“Our relationship is very, very strong on the economic side between our two countries,” Doer continued. “We are very dependent on each other to maintain supply lines between our two countries.”
He said this is something that’s known “first-hand” by those living in International Falls, Fort Frances, and this border area—although it’s an argument that’s harder to make in Washington or Ottawa.
“So it’s really, really important to continue to have your voices felt through to our representatives as forcefully as we can.”
Doer also stressed the important role Canada plays as the largest customer of goods for the U.S.
“Sometimes politicians will go to trade trips to Europe and they’ll go on trade missions to China—we buy three times more goods in Canada than China buys from the United States.
“We buy more than the whole European Union from Canada to the United States.
“And that’s sometimes very, very important to point out in a very real way.
“It’s also very important to keep the supply chains operating,” Doer said, stressing the need to avoid implementing “Buy Canada” or “Buy America” policies, which means less economic activities and the loss of jobs.
“We’ve got to keep that common sense that we see in this room, and in the Chamber of Commerce, to make sure that we keep these supply chains going,” he noted, adding both countries need to continue investing in infrastructure, including border and transportation infrastructure, to create jobs and improve travel between the two.
Doer also pointed to the proposed pipeline from Alberta to Houston—with “on-ramps for more oil” from Montana and North Dakota—as an example of a job- and revenue-creating project that draws on the connection between the countries.
“But when you get to Washington, sometimes you hear people that say we don’t need any more oil in the United States, in fact, we should get off of oil completely,” he said, calling those views unrealistic.
“Of course everybody is going to do their bit to reduce the per capita oil in our countries in terms of consumption, but the last time I looked, you can’t put a windmill on an 18-wheeler,” Doer quipped.
“You don’t have a lot of success at night driving some cars with solar [power].”